Dai Dark (大ダーク) is a New Weird sci-fi manga by Hayashida Q, the author of Dorohedoro. Just like the mangaka's previous work, it smoothly blends gore, off-the-rocker Black Comedy and a little bit of fanservice with a dark and unusual setting.
Zaha Sanko is a strange man wandering a weird, desolate galaxy, clad in a black rags and carrying a creepy, skull-decorated backpack called the Package of Darkness. His life is one of constant fighting, since he is considered by most people to be the greatest treasure in the universe; not without basis, as it's said his bones can make any wish come true. As such, Sanko has to spend his days fending off bizarre aliens, bloodthirsty space pirates and opportunistic bums who are all after his bones, armed only with the shapeshifting Flesh of Darkness and aided by the Package, in actuality a mechanical being called Avakian. He has only one goal in mind: to find the man who grants the wish, and kill him, thus earning his freedom.
Of course, Sanko's quest is far from an easy one - to begin with, he has no idea who cursed him to have wish-granting bones and why, or where he could find that person. His search is further complicated by Shimada Death, an extremely powerful (and jocular) phantom of interstellar death, and the Solar Mass, a fanatical organization hell-bent on annihilating both of them as incarnations of evil.
Dai Dark contains examples of the following tropes:
- Abstract Eater: Shimada Death eats death. If a creature near them dies, they can consume its "death essence" as nourishment.
- Ambiguously Human: Most of the cast look like they're humans but carry traits that would beg to the contrary, many are even just called aliens due to this fact. Sanko himself is even supposed to be fourteen yet has the body of a full grown adult, most likely due to consuming Blood and Flesh of Darkness to strengthen his body, with bones that could supposedly grant the owner any wish they want.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: The entire reason Sanko considers Shimada Death his friend is that they're the first person who didn't try to kill him immediately when they found out who he was.
- Black Comedy: Oh yes. Avakian making a bonfire from frozen corpses to warm up Sanko and the fate of the scientist who tries to jump into the black hole are just two examples of many in this manga.
- Breath Weapon: Avakian can breathe fire.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Shimada Death, a jocular, quirky interstellar wanderer... and an indestructible phantom of space who can kill with a finger and feasts on the energy of death.Shimada: "I have tremendous strength! Countless skills! A cool appearance! Abundant knowledge! Immortality (maybe)! And a heart of happiness!"
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Sanko frequently has very odd trains of thought, such as taking his time to bake bread on a desolate space pirate ship, or inventing the "Mebaspa Sandwich", composed of spaghetti and meatballs inside a sandwich bun. He's also fairly unfazed by the gore and death surrounding him constantly.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Avakian. While no stranger to weird and morbid behavior, he's clearly the more sensible of the two, and is frequently the one to pull Sanko along when he's bogged down with some odd tangent.
- Cool Starship: Sanko's spaceship, the 'Moja', also known as the Ship of Darkness, which more or less resembles a macabre doll made out of a dog corpse, and features an especially adorable onboard AI and the ability to completely cloak itself by becoming one with the darkness of space.
- Cute and Psycho: Beneath the Grim Reaper-esque cloak and macabre mask, Sanko is actually a quite cute 14-year-old boy... who is disturbingly chipper about brutally dispatching aliens and pirates gunning for his life.
- Dark World: Dark, the World of Darkness, is a Barlowe-esque dimension of twisted shadows, only accessible from the regular universe through black holes.
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: More like Darkly Darks of Darkness! The word "dark" shows up so much in this manga that it stops feeling like a real word after a really short time. Reaches its peak at Chapter 5, titled "In the Darkness of the Fearsome Dark".
- Eldritch Location: Inside black holes is a place called "Dark", a strange and alien dimension where no light exists with bizarre non-euclidean architecture. The only safe way to enter this realm is to have a protective Flesh of Darkness covering your body head to toe, otherwise you get broken apart, put back together, turned inside out and then become what's called a "shadow". It's inhabitants are mostly barely living zombies or animalistic shadows, who were once people that entered without a Flesh of Darkness.
- The Mall: Dai Dark has its own bizarre version of this in the form of the Maltekya supermarket chain, which has been in operation for centuries. Its automated space-going malls are drifting around the galaxy, only staffed by computers and Live-Robos, and sometimes they don't see a single customer for decades. Despite being completely unguarded, nobody dares to raid them as the last time this happened, the mall in question self-destructed and wiped out the entire space pirate fleet involved.
- Knight Templar: The Solar Mass, an organization of fanatical, gun-toting, masked warriors who hunt Sanko, Avakian and Shimada as embodiments of evil.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: Sanko is capable of controlling the Flesh of Darkness, a shapeshifting, dark, fleshy mass that can only be found inside black holes. His clothes, weapons and spacesuit are all made of the stuff, and Avakian also stores a large amount of it inside his body. When fashioned into a weapon, killing people with it will cause their skeletons to burst whole from their body, ripping their flesh in two in the process.
- Samus Is a Girl: Shimada Death turns out to be a surprisingly pretty woman under her heavy cloak and threatening mask.
- Shopping Montage: Chapter 7 is taken up entirely by Sanko and his crew visiting a massive space-going mall to shop for equipment to their newly-built spaceship.
- SkeleBot 9000: It's unclear if Avakian is a robot shaped like a skeleton, a skeleton shaped like a robot, or a robot made out of a skeleton. In any case, he seems to be some sort of mechanical being with a decidedly skeletal appearance.
- Spaceship Pet: The Moja's onboard computer takes the form of an Ugly Cute skeletal dog robot, also called Moja, who is extremely helpful and friendly to Sanko and Avakian.
- Space Pirates: Sanko runs afoul of a space pirate ship in the first story arc, whose crew is, unsurprisingly, after his bones. He ends up killing the entire crew in self-defense and jumps off the ship into the void of space.
- Telescoping Robot: Avakian can fold himself up to backpack size with ease; in fact, he spends a good part of the series being hauled around by Sanko on his back, even when he's awake.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Sanko regularly slaughters dozens of enemies with an axe and extracts their bones from their body, and he's 'fourteen.' A flashback reveals he was similarly nonchalant about brutal murder when he was just eight years old.
- Used Future: Everything, especially the spaceships, looks like it's been decaying for at least two hundred years. The Space Pirate ship from the first story arc especially looks more like a flying village of bums than a functional spaceship.
- Weird Currency: The inhabitants of Dark use bones as currency, especially skulls. Other body parts, like meat, skin and blood, are also valued.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: Avakian offhandedly mentions to Sanko that they've collected an enormous pile of gold from killing all of the ne'er-do-wells who've been trying to steal Sanko's bones, a fact neither of them particularly cared about before they went shopping at Maltekya.